In Which Ella Puts on Crazy Get-Ups and Dances Abysmally

My aunt, uncle, and cousins are visiting from California this week, and tonight their kids, Pippa, and I decided to play Just Dance 2 on Pippa’s Wii.

Now, I suck at dancing. Remember how in this post (To Be a Prima Ballerina Assoluta) I wrote about a girl that got kicked out of a ballet class? Well, I also got politely asked not to return to my dance class when I was fourteen. I’m all flailing limbs, and I’m perpetually a few beats behind, racing to catch back up. It’s unfortunate, but I’m too amused by my incompetence to be embarrassed.

So tonight when we decided to play the game, I knew that I would have to do something big to stand out. Naturally, I decided that the game needed costumes. Because, let’s face it, what in life doesn’t need costumes?

I dragged everyone upstairs, and we started putting on silly clothes. And by we, I mean me. I grabbed a pair of Pippa’s neon pink tights, furry pale pink leg warmers, pale blue shorts, and one of my mother’s racing swimsuits. You know, the type that has the intense and crazy swirls of color so you can look just that more impressive and athletic. I put all of it on, tie my hair up in high pigtails, and apply an obscene amount of lipstick and eyeshadow, all the while encouraging the others to get into something spectacularly insane.

Pippa followed my lead, albeit in a much more restrained fashion and minus the makeup, and I got one of my cousins to put on Pippa’s old soccer shorts and wear a fedora and his sweatshirt backwards and the other one to wear my running clothes, the leg warmers that I had ditched because they began to seem like too much,* and her hair in a high ponytail, secured with a scrunchie.

Then, we all proceeded to march downstairs much to the adults’** amusement and play Wii for over an hour. But before I could grab a controller and get started my dad pulled me aside to question me.

“Are you okay?” he said.

I gave him a funny look, because of course I was okay! I was organizing games that involve silly costumes, something I am not apt to do when I’m depressed, anxious, or manic.

And then he reminded me that my I-am-having-the-time-of-my-life expression is very similar to my everything-in-the-world-is-hilarious-let’s-make-six-thousand-trays-of-ice-cubes-reorganize-the-kitchen-and-play-with-bleach look. And when I’m acting nuts like that I do frequently wear weird things.

I know why he asked me what was going on–I do have a habit of going off the deep end–and I don’t begrudge him at all, it just would be nice to be able to act goofy without causing concern.

All that aside, I’m proud to announce that I did win a few rounds***.

*In retrospect, everything in my outfit was too much.

**It’s rather crazy to think that I can be considered one of the adults right now, because I certainly do not act like at times like that.

***Though it mostly was the result of the way I moved the controller and not the quality of my actual dancing, which was hilariously awful.

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On My Grandmother, Harry Potter, and Happiness

About four years back, when I went to visit my grandmother (who shall hence forth be called Mémé so as to distinguish her from my dad’s mom) over summer vacation, I showed her the first three Harry Potter films on DVD and gave her the corresponding books. I knew that she had gone to see a few of the other films in the movie theatre after their release dates, but I didn’t think that her affection for the series extended past an interest to keep up with her grandchildren’s interests.

Well, I was wrong big time. We were driving home from the city today when I mentioned the eighth Harry Potter movie to her, which she had been wanting to see. And instead of having a short conversation about the logistics of our trip to the theatre, we spent about half the ride talking about just how much we love the series.

She’s introduced some of her friends to the books and movies and a few weeks back brought over the first DVD and book to my great aunt’s house to help cheer her sister up. And, like any good Harry Potter fan, (this makes me so happy) she emphasized the importance of reading the book first. She had also recently seen the Lifetime movie about J.K. Rowling’s life and loved it.

I’m taking her to see the Harry Potter exhibit on Tuesday, and I’m so terribly excited. I love being able to share one of my all-time favorite things with her, and I really want to add to my collection of chocolate frogs. It’s going to be so much fun.

I also got to spend over two hours in an exhibit about the brain, and my Mémé gave me a beautiful pearl necklace that had belonged to my great-grandmother. It’s been a very awesome day.

Crash and burn

So here’s Mr. Ella’s father guest-blogging for Ella. She’s spent half the day at the airport with Ms. Ella’s mom waiting for Ms. Ella’s grandmother to arrive from Florida. A flight that was supposed to land around four thirty didn’t reach Newark until nearly 11 due to clouds, winds and thunderstorms.
I can imagine what they’ll say when they finally reach home tonight, near midnight. They’ll be tired, hungry, cranky, irritated at the huge waste of time and extreme inconvenience. I expect they’ll use words like nightmare, disaster, agony, and such. Those are the word that first spring to my mind.
But of course it’s nothing of the sort. it’s a long wait in a tiresome building, sure, but not real hardship. A nightmare is a plane with a loved one aboard dropping out of the sky in a wicked storm. A disaster is the death of all aboard. Agony is living without a loved one with whom you were expecting to enjoy sharing an extended visit, and many more for years into the future.

I find I’m often guilty of this sort of verbal inflation, calling simple inconvenience something far worse. That kind of thinking, in part, is what has put us in the colossal political mess that is consuming Washington as I write. Heated rhetoric that calls every act of government a threat to liberty, or sees hate speech in any dislike of difference, has blinded us to the real problems we face, and left us chasing imaginary ghouls instead.
I’ll resist the temptation to dissect the debt ceiling deadlock further. This isn’t the forum for that. But it is worth being mindful of the delusions that exaggeration can lead us to, if left unchecked. The battle in Washington is most decidedly not a clash between fascists and socialists. The sad thing is that both sides are now so blinded by the hatred loaded into the labels they attach to one another, they are driving us recklessly onward toward a very real nightmare, a truly agonizing disaster.

Dinner Table Conversations: Part Three

Scene: Pushkin and Max are playing in the laundry basket and attacking the newly cleaned and folded towels, and Pippa is talking about what would happen if she tried to carry Pushkin around in a bag.

Ella: You know, people sometimes put kittens in sacks to drown them.

Dad: They let you take cats into Saks?

Ella: You’re hilarious.

Hello? Bulldog Pizza, How May I Help You? In Which Ella Makes a Big Mistake and Gets Taken Off the Calling List for The Human Rights Campaign

My dad has this joke where he’ll pick up the phone and say “Bulldog Pizza” (or some other made-up or real business’ name) in a gruff voice instead of hello when a friend or family member is calling. Usually, they’ll stammer an apology about calling the wrong number and hang up, only to try again and have my dad repeat the stunt until they figure out it’s him. It’s the sort of joke that really just works once, but it’s still a great one to pull.

(Of course, by explaining it here, I’ve drastically reduced the number of unsuspecting people I can do this to, but I’ve also exponentially increased the number of people who can now play this joke on each other, so I feel it balances out.)

I was bored this afternoon when I got a call that I thought was from a friend, so I answered the phone, saying “Bulldog Pizza. How may I help you?” and whoever was on the other line immediately hung up.

About thirty seconds later, I get another call and repeat the stunt. This happens about four more times, until finally they say in a voice that does not sound like Clara’s, “Hi, I’m _____ from The Human Rights Campaign, and I have this number listed as a residence. I want to apologize for having called you repeatedly; I thought that I was misdialing my phone. We’ll take you off our list and won’t bother you again. Have a nice day!” And they hung up before I could even try to explain what had happened.

As it turns out, the Caller ID on the phone in the study is inaccurate, and I actually don’t have Clara’s number properly memorized. Thankfully, we’re the sort of people who will still donate to the Human Rights Campaign even without them calling us to ask for donations, so being off their calling list doesn’t matter very much, but I still feel like a complete idiot.

I feel like an idiot. Not only did I act inappropriately and meanly towards someone phone-banking for a great cause, (and this is extremely petty) I messed up a streak of really good pranks. Pippa can tell you all about what I did to her in the kitchen with ice cubes, and I got my dad to walk around for hours with a sign that said “oblivious moron” on his back. I think I’m going to cool it with my lame practical jokes for a while.

In Which Ella Tells Embarrassing Stories About Herself

I thought that I’d share an embarrassing stories today.

One:

Now, as you all know, I am incredibly fond of Harry Potter, and I have been for quite some time. I was fourteen and at summer camp when the seventh book came out, and I was in full on obsession mode. I wore my Hogwarts robe the day of the release and spent nearly all my free time reading and rereading the book.

A few days later, we were having a get-together with our brother cabin from the boys camp when I noticed that one of the boys was wear a shirt that said “I’m a keeper.”

“No way!” I thought, “That’s got to do with the Quidditch position. I should go ask about it!”

So I did, and he laughed at me, because apparently that phrase has nothing to with Harry Potter, and everything to do with being an attractive romantic partner.

And like any mature thirteen-year-old, I stomped off to sit on the back steps of the cabin to read my book and refused to come out and socialize for the rest of the night.

Two:

I once proudly wore this outfit to school:

Ella and Local Commercials

I was watching the Red Sox today when the Bob’s Furniture commercial came on, and as Bob and the pretty lady tried to sell me heinous living room and bedroom sets that now came in “exciting, new colors,” I was reminded of one of my favorite youtube channels: RhettandLink.

These two “internetainers” make all sorts of amazing videos, but my favorites are their funny local commercials. They are so much better than boring Bob and his strange voice inflections. See for yourself.

And because I find it cool:

Norway

When I turned my phone on this afternoon after seeing a movie with Audrey, it started buzzing like crazy. As I watched the unread text messages count rise with surprising speed, I remarked to Audrey, “That’s gotta be twitter. I bet it’s just quotes from Obama’s town hall, you know, phrases we’ve all heard before.” But the buzzing continued past the point that the White House normally tweets, so I quickly checked one message to see if something drastic had happened and the Republicans had finally come to their senses and agreed with one of Obama’s compromises. It all seemed to be about something that had happened in Norway, so I wrote it off as some EU issue, probably monetary, and went back to talking.

In my head, Scandinavia is the place you go when you want the best quality of life on the planet, peace and diplomacy, and a government that really cares for its people by providing excellent health care and social programs. Also, I it’s pretty much always Christmas there, and everyone spends their free time playing hockey and hanging out looking healthy. I’ve read too much of the Children in Noisy Village books by Astrid Lindgren and watched the movies based on them over and over again.

So when someone says Scandinavia, I mostly envision the beginning Alla Vi Barn I Bullerbyn.

So you can imagine how it isn’t even logical to me that Norway could be attacked in the way it was yesterday afternoon (their time). It simply doesn’t compute.

Explosions; windows shattering; people dead; people injured; country in crisis; shooting into a crowd of campers; no confirmed death count; the articles went on and on and my head kept spinning*.

And instead of crying or praying like a normal person would, I started revising my disaster plans, looking up the price of bullet-proof glass and those rope ladders that you use to get out of buildings when they’re on fire (they sell them in Skymall), and imagining what I would have done if I was caught in the middle of it.

It’s going to take me a while to get my head around what happened and be able to talk about it in a cohesive and somewhat reasonable manner.

*I know that the punctuation here is abysmal, but it is one thirty, and WordPress just ate my other draft.